Blog Post

How Virtual World YoVille Got 5M Facebook Users

yovilleWhile everyone in the game industry was following the latest news from GDC last week, I happened to notice an MMO milestone happening on Facebook: a casual virtual world called YoVille passed 5 million monthly active users.

Launched in May of last year, YoVille’s user growth rate is faster than that of any virtual world I’m aware of, quickly putting it in the upper ranks of other web-based MMOs, such as Gaia Online, launched in 2003, which reported 7 million monthly actives last Winter, and Habbo, launched in 2000, which reported nearly 10 million monthlies last June. Even more surprising to me, YoVille is only accessible as an app on Facebook and MySpace (where it currently counts 2.8 million users.)

How did it get so successful so fast? “Many casual social network users were hungry for a virtual world, and YoVille was the first to deliver that experience,” YoVille developer Justin Waldron speculated in an email interview. He also credits a design emphasis on play among friends for the site’s rapid growth.

One of many successful social games from San Francisco-based startup Zynga, YoVille invites players to create cartoonish avatars, customize their appearance and apartments, socialize with other users, and add them as friends. (Sort of like an animated, synchronous version of Facebook within Facebook.) Waldron tells me its user base has a demographic that’s 60 percent female and 40 percent male, mostly in the 13-35 year old range. Like many social games, YoVille has its own virtual currency, and that’s even led to some emergent user-created content: Zynga’s team was surprised to discover some players using the world’s virtual whiteboard object to draw and sell artworks to other users.

The company currently earns revenue from YoVille through banner ads, lead generation, and direct user purchase of YoVille cash. With such a spectacular growth rate, it’s likely we’ll see other developers attempting Facebook-based virtual worlds of their own. Waldron’s advice? “Be sure to listen to your users. You get a ton of useful feedback on social networks.”

37 Responses to “How Virtual World YoVille Got 5M Facebook Users”

  1. i am addicted to yoville but the thing is about the yocash . can u do anything about it waldron please beacause yeah i do have 5 houses 3 are yocash houses but sometimes i really need it can u let the tab of earn yocash come back were u do surveys and stuff ?? p[lease

  2. i do have my problem. try to get a carpet change and it is somewrwe but donth see it. and also they are young people that play this game. like my son. but last night someone use there apparment to post porno. pictures of here private parts.
    so I think is time for me and my sons to stop. no more yoville for my family

  3. Just started yoville and like the idea of it but tired of the application. I cant do one thing without it asking me to get more neighbors, I am not playing the game to market for them!! Then i bought something and confirmed it and they took out the coins and then it disappeared and I never saw it again not in the inventory nothing. I think I will stick with farmtown!

  4. Petunia (yoville name)

    Waldron’s advice? “Be sure to listen to your users. You get a ton of useful feedback on social networks.”

    Waldron needs to take his own advice. He’s not listening to his users anymore. 99% of his Facebook users are unhappy about the new sweets factory and want the widget factory back. I won’t waste your time reiterating why the users hate it. He knows why. He’s a smart man. Now he just needs to be a honorable man and keep his word.

    • To say the least, I don’t like the widget factory at all. I have been playing yoville for less than a year now but I never got to see the sweet factory that everyone keeps talking about. Its sounds like it was way better than this stupid widget thing. Again, I do NOT like the widget machine at all and hope it goes away soon.!!!

  5. K Pollard

    As a user of the application, I would have to say they need some serious help. The application is run a muck with hackers using the popular program WPE Pro. Not only that, but it’s costumer support is practically non existent. The company also has an ‘F’ rating from the BBB, and it’s sad that such a great opportunity is going to squandered. I hope for their sake,and that of their players, they head the advice, and lite to user feedback. If they don’t change they way they conduct business, I positive they will see the fall of yoville just as quickly if not faster as they rose.

    Travis — 1:07 AM on April 2, 2009

    Agreed Travis!

    Recently they came out with a new idea to intergrate a new way for their players to make an income, obviously to help generate more income for the Z game itself. Yet in doing so they figured they would cut and make earning the coin (players income) harder to obtain. They have just ramdonly picked players to test this new income maker. In everyday terms all hell has broke lose. Inspite of the 95% of players rebuke of this new income making idea which is called the Sweets Factory, they are adding more testers as we speak, without any choice of this testing I may add. I would think that with a game that gained such popularity in such a short time inspite of the hackers, and lagging, and gliches, they would listen to their source of income the players! If they want more generated income add the items players are screaming for, instead of adding some activities to the game to make it like their ever growing popular game Farmville (copy of FarmTown). Congrats to the devs for their sucess on Farmville, but why make an obviously unqiue game as YoVille all on its own into a something the mass majority of players don’t want it to be? Im just blabbing now im sure but the bottom line is Wal’s advice was to listen to your players. As Wal’s post indicated listen to your players input, well maybe they should readdress what he said because based on the YoVille.com forums and many other Yo fan sites they are about to lose alot of their players (income) if they proceed or don’t re address this new concept they are trying to push on their customers.

  6. Cajunbabe

    I love going to Yoville and I’ve met a lot of new people there. I miss the drinks at the Sky bar. Nobody hangs out there any more.

    I like the new Factory, however. Much easier to work.

    Hanging out in front of the apt is nice way to meet people, too

    • I have a big familly , a sister Chicago . a sister in N.Y.
      AND Puerto Rico, so its fun my sister and i hang ot at the yoville club. talk visit eachothers appt.
      its nice to spent time with family virtualy.

    • Hanging out in front of the apartment is stupid and causes lagging. It is annoying to the yovillians who need to get into and out of their apartments. If you people need to hang out go do it at the beach if not at the club, or how about the coffee shop or even Vinny’s, geez how hard is that. I mean what is it with hanging out in front of the apartment anyway???????????????

  7. jamie

    i like the game.. but i don’t like how they respond to customers about their grievances.. not even a hi or hello or i’m sorry this happened — nada. No automated responses whatsoever. It took me a whole month before my leaderboard was fixed and it just happened one day. I wonder how they got to it or some magic worked its way into my game and fixed it. either way, i don’t appreciate the no-help attitude. all they do is take.

  8. Barbara Simmons

    Dam ZYNGA (YOVILLE) still haven t gotten my stuff back or THE MONEY I SPENT TO PLAY THE DAM GAME…
    I Am Screwed Out Of All The YoVille Items That Were Hacked Below

    Rare Koki-Pond $8,000 YoCoins

    Rare Rocket 25 YoCash Dollars

    Rare 2 small Valentines Bears $ 6,000 YoCoins

    Rare Gum Ball Machine 25 YoCash Dollars

    Velvet Lounge 2 Small Open Curtains 6 YoCash Dollars

    Velvet Lounge Red Velvet Love Seat 4 YoCash Dollars

    Velvet Lounge Red Velvet Day Bed 5 YoCash Dollars

    Velvet Lounge Red Velvet Couch 5 YoCash Dollars

    Velvet Lounge 2 Red Velvet Chairs 6 YoCash Dollars

    Velvet Lounge 2 Red Velvet Bed 5 YoCash Dollars

    Velvet Lounge Red Velvet 4 Small Closed Curtains 4 YoCash Dollars

    Velvet Lounge Carpet 2 YoCash Dollars

    Velvet Lounge Red Velvet Ottoman 4 YoCash Dollars

    Brown and Tan Cat 20 YoCash Dollars

    Yorkie 20 YoCash Dollars

    4 Pennsylvania Dutch Ottomans 20 YoCash Dollars

    Pennsylvania Dutch Bed 6 YoCash Dollars

    Pennsylvania Dutch Couch 6 YoCash Dollars

    Pennsylvania Dutch Desk 5 YoCash Dollars

    3 Pennsylvania Dutch Chairs 12 YoCash Dollars

    Tiki Small Weave Lauhala Floor 2 YoCash Dollars

    5 Tiki Torches 10 YoCash Dollars

    Encanto White Fur Coat 6 YoCash Dollars

    4 Tiki Carved Masks 12 YoCash Dollars

    2 Tiki Painted Masks 6 YoCash Dollars

    Floral Tiki Bed 5 YoCash Dollars

    Floral Tiki Chair 3 YoCash Dollars

    Floral Tiki Love Seat 4 YoCash Dollars

    Bamboo Tiki Loveseat 4 YoCash Dollars

    Zen Rug $ 125 YoCoins

    Zen Lounger $ 400 YoCoins

    Zen Ottoman $ 200 YoCoins

    2 Zen Chairs $ 1,000 YoCoins

    Zen Dinning Set $ 500 YoCoins

    Zen Sofa $600 YoCoins

    4 Zen Tables $300 YoCoins

    Zen Dinning Set $500 YoCoins

    Honey Hardwood Floor $1,000 YoCoins

    Red Hardwood Floor $1,000 YoCoins

    Safari Sofa $600 YoCoins

    Safari Ottoman $250 YoCoins

    2 Safari Chairs $500 YoCoins

    Safari Lounger $300 YoCoins

    Safari Chest $325 YoCoins

    Safari Desk Chair $200 YoCoins

    Girly Pink Tile Floor $500 YoCoins

    Girly White Dresser $500 YoCoins

  9. YoVille is an easy game for anyone who wants to relax, create, socialize and just have easy fun. Everyone that plays learns the game quickly, user friendly. If you don’t know how to use something you can ask your fellow players. Players have knowledge, You become addicted and luv the game. Even if players become frustrated with the lack of response to emails they send, they know that in time problems/gliches will be corrected. Thus, they shall return. When you leave YoVille you also leave alot of good people you have become buddies with. A Huge part of this game is socializing with other players. If you make an enemy, someone dislikes you, report them for something offensive. Zynga never asks the person being accused, they just bann them from events. I should know, I have been banned for life and know who had me banned. But did Zynga ask me anything about it? Not at all. They have a surplus of people joining the game. But I am still addicted to YoVille. mainly because of great friends I have made online.
    ShadowPeople

  10. DAnielle

    This game used to be fun. But now it is down more than it is running. Time to try out other games similar, like Club Penguin, IMVU, Second Life, etc.

    Which is a shame, i was addicted to it, but it has become more frustrating then fun. Time to move on and time for Zynga to step up their performance.

  11. lucylou

    Yeah I completely am addicted to this program. I’ve been using about 2 months. However I believe because of the amount of users in such a quick time, they have run into serious problems and unhappy yovillians. I would assume the developers did not expect this huge rush to socialize as the dream cartoon pic of yourself, buy some awesome furniture and items and take home to your house you bought and create, create, create. I hope that they have not reached their bubble already and are on the verge of bursting…..but Im impatient and am already looking for a similar type game and join switch!

  12. Travis

    As a user of the application, I would have to say they need some serious help. The application is run a muck with hackers using the popular program WPE Pro. Not only that, but it’s costumer support is practically non existent. The company also has an ‘F’ rating from the BBB, and it’s sad that such a great opportunity is going to squandered. I hope for their sake,and that of their players, they head the advice, and lite to user feedback. If they don’t change they way they conduct business, I positive they will see the fall of yoville just as quickly if not faster as they rose.

  13. Interesting figures but really too bad that in terms of “how” you could only get
    “Many casual social network users were hungry for a virtual world, and YoVille was the first to deliver that experience”
    and “design emphasis on play among friends”.
    Basically, first mover and gaming? Hardly a lesson…

  14. Interesting to see how facebook can create such a large stream of users for virtual worlds. There might be something to learn from the marketing approach used by Yoville. Fact is that there is a strong demand for virtual worlds so people are always looking to find something new and test it out.

  15. K Pollard

    its also not just for women between 30 to 35! try 30 to 60 in age range! this is becoming popular for women in a huge way! Way to go YoVille!

    YoVillian Bud
    teacup